The House by the Church-Yard
by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
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Toole was bound upon a melancholy mission that morning. But though properly a minister of life, a doctor is also conversant with death, and inured to the sight of familiar faces in that remarkable disguise. So he spurred away with more coolness, though not less regret than another man, to throw what light he could upon the subject of the inquest which was to sit upon the body of poor Charles Nutter.

The little doctor, on his way to Ringsend, without the necessity of diverging to the right or left, drew bridle at the door of Mr. Luke Gamble, on the Blind Quay, attorney to the late Charles Nutter, and jumping to the ground, delivered a rattling summons thereupon.

It was a dusty, dreary, wainscoted old house—indeed, two old houses intermarried—with doors broken through the partition walls—the floors not all of a level—joined by steps up and down—and having three great staircases, that made it confusing. Through the windows it was not easy to see, such a fantastic mapping of thick dust and dirt coated the glass.

Luke Gamble, like the house, had seen better days. It was not his fault; but an absconding partner had well nigh been his ruin: and, though he paid their liabilities, it was with a strain, and left him a poor man, shattered his connexion, and made the house too large by a great deal for his business.

Doctor Toole came into the clerk's room, and was ushered by one of these gentlemen through an empty chamber into the attorney's sanctum. Up two steps stumbled the physician, cursing the house for a place where a gentleman was so much more likely to break his neck than his fast, and found old Gamble in his velvet cap and dressing-gown, in conference with a hard-faced, pale, and pock-marked elderly man, squinting unpleasantly under a black wig, who was narrating something slowly, and with effort, like a man whose memory is labouring to give up its dead, while the attorney, with his spectacles on his nose, was making notes. The speaker ceased abruptly, and turned his pallid visage and jealous, oblique eyes on the intruder.

Luke Gamble looked embarrassed, and shot one devilish angry glance at his clerk, and then made Doctor Toole very welcome.

When Toole had ended his narrative, and the attorney read the notices through, Mr. Gamble's countenance brightened, and darkened and brightened again, and with a very significant look, he said to the pale, unpleasant face, pitted with small-pox—

'M. M.,' and nodded.

His companion extended his hand toward the papers.

'Never mind,' said the attorney; 'there's that here will fix M. M. in a mighty tight vice.'

'And who's M. M., pray?' enquired Toole.

'When were these notices served, doctor?' asked Mr. Gamble.

'Not an hour ago; but, I say, who the plague's M. M.?' answered Toole.

'M. M.,' repeated the attorney, smiling grimly on the backs of the notices which lay on the table; 'why there's many queer things to be heard of M. M.; and the town, and the country, too, for that matter, is like to know a good deal more of her before long; and who served them—a process-server, or who?'

'Why, a fat, broad, bull-necked rascal, with a double chin, and a great round face, the colour of a bad suet-dumplin', and a black patch over his eye,' answered Toole.

'Very like—was he alone?' said Gamble.

'No—a long, sly she-devil in black, that looked as if she'd cut your windpipe, like a cat in the dark, as pale as paper, and mighty large, black, hollow eyes.'

'Ay—that's it,' said Gamble, who, during this dialogue, had thrown his morning-gown over the back of the chair, and got on his coat, and opened a little press in the wall, from which he took his wig, and so completed his toilet.

'That's it?' repeated Toole: 'what's it?—what's what?'

'Why, 'tis David O'Regan—Dirty Davy, as we call him. I never knew him yet in an honest case; and the woman's M. M.'

'Hey! to be sure—a woman—I know—I remember; and he was on the point of breaking out with poor Mrs. Macnamara's secret, but recovered in time. 'That's the she fortune-teller, the witch, M. M., Mary Matchwell; 'twas one of her printed cards, you know, was found lying in Sturk's blood. Dr. Sturk, you remember, that they issued a warrant for, against our poor friend, you know.'

'Ay, ay—poor Charles—poor Nutter. Are you going to the inquest?' said Gamble; and, on a sudden, stopped short, with a look of great fear, and a little beckon of his hand forward, as if he had seen something.

There was that in Gamble's change of countenance which startled Toole, who, seeing that his glance was directed through an open door at the other end of the room, skipped from his chair and peeped through it. There was nothing, however, visible but a tenebrose and empty passage.

'What did you see—eh? What frightens you?' said Toole. 'One would think you saw Nutter—like—like.'

Gamble looked horribly perturbed at these words.

'Shut it,' said he, nearing the door, on which Toole's hand rested. Toole took another peep, and did so.

'Why, there's nothing there—like—like the women down at the Mills there,' continued the doctor.

'What about the women?' enquired Gamble, not seeming to know very well what he was saying, agitated still—perhaps, intending to keep Toole talking.

'Why, the women—the maids, you know—poor Nutter's servants, down at the Mills. They swear he walks the house, and they'll have it they saw him last night.'

'Pish! Sir—'tis all conceit and vapours—women's fancies—a plague o' them all. And where's poor Mrs. Nutter?' said Gamble, clapping on his cocked-hat, and taking his cane, and stuffing two or three bundles of law papers into his coat pockets.

'At home—at the Mills. She slept at the village and so missed the ghost. The Macnamaras have been mighty kind. But when the news was told her this morning, poor thing, she would not stay, and went home; and there she is, poor little soul, breaking her heart.'

Mr. Gamble was not ceremonious; so he just threw a cursory and anxious glance round the room, clapped his hands on his coat pockets, making a bunch of keys ring somewhere deep in their caverns. And all being right—

'Come along, gentlemen,' says he, 'I'm going to lock the door;' and without looking behind him, he bolted forth abstractedly into his dusty ante-room.

'Get your cloak about you, Sir—remember your cough, you know—the air of the streets is sharp,' said he with a sly wink, to his ugly client, who hastily took the hint.

'Is that coach at the door?' bawled Gamble to his clerks in the next room, while he locked the door of his own snuggery behind him; and being satisfied it was so, he conducted the party out by a side door, avoiding the clerks' room, and so down stairs.

'Drive to the courts,' said the attorney to the coachman; and that was all Toole learned about it that day. So he mounted his nag, and resumed his journey to Ringsend at a brisk trot.

I suppose, when he turned the key in his door, and dropped it into his breeches' pocket, the gentleman attorney assumed that he had made everything perfectly safe in his private chamber, though Toole thought he had not looked quite the same again after that sudden change of countenance he had remarked.

Now, it was a darksome day, and the windows of Mr. Gamble's room were so obscured with cobwebs, dust, and dirt, that even on a sunny day they boasted no more than a dim religious light. But on this day a cheerful man would have asked for a pair of candles, to dissipate the twilight and sustain his spirits.

He had not been gone, and the room empty ten minutes, when the door through which he had seemed to look on that unknown something that dismayed him, opened softly—at first a little—then a little more—then came a knock at it—then it opened more, and the dark shape of Charles Nutter, with rigid features and white eye-balls, glided stealthily and crouching into the chamber, and halted at the table, and seemed to read the endorsements of the notices that lay there.



Dangerfield was, after his wont, seated at his desk, writing letters, after his early breakfast, with his neatly-labelled accounts at his elbow. There was a pleasant frosty sun glittering through the twigs of the leafless shrubs, and flashing on the ripples and undulations of the Liffey, and the redbreasts and sparrows were picking up the crumbs which the housekeeper had thrown for them outside. He had just sealed the last of half-a-dozen letters, when the maid opened his parlour-door, and told him that a gentleman was at the hall-step, who wished to see him.

Dangerfield looked up with a quick glance—

'Eh?—to be sure. Show him in.'

And in a few seconds more, Mr. Mervyn, his countenance more than usually pale and sad, entered the room. He bowed low and gravely, as the servant announced him.

Dangerfield rose with a prompt smile, bowing also, and advanced with his hand extended, which, as a matter of form rather than of cordiality, his visitor took, coldly enough, in his.

'Happy to see you here, Mr. Mervyn—pray, take a chair—a charming morning for a turn by the river, Sir.'

'I have taken the liberty of visiting you, Mr. Dangerfield—'

'Your visit, Sir, I esteem an honour,' interposed the lord of the Brass Castle.

A slight and ceremonious bow from Mervyn, who continued—'For the purpose of asking you directly and plainly for some light upon a matter in which it is in the highest degree important I should be informed.'

'You may command me, Mr. Mervyn,' said Dangerfield, crossing his legs, throwing himself back, and adjusting himself to attention.

Mervyn fixed his dark eyes full and sternly upon that white and enigmatical face, with its round glass eyes and silver setting, and those delicate lines of scorn he had never observed before, traced about the mouth and nostril.

'Then, Sir, I venture to ask you for all you can disclose or relate about one Charles Archer.'

Dangerfield cocked his head on one side, quizzically, and smiled the faintest imaginable cynical smile.

'I can't disclose anything, for the gentleman never told me his secrets; but all I can relate is heartily at your service.'

'Can you point him out, Sir?' asked Mervyn, a little less sternly, for he saw no traces of a guilty knowledge in the severe countenance and prompt, unembarrassed manner of the gentleman who leaned back in his chair, with the clear bright light full on him, and his leg crossed so carelessly.

Dangerfield smiled, shook his head gently, and shrugged his shoulders the least thing in the world.

'Don't you know him, Sir?' demanded Mervyn.

'Why,' said Dangerfield, with his chin a little elevated, and the tips of his fingers all brought together, and his elbows resting easily upon the arms of his chair, and altogether an involuntary air of hauteur, 'Charles Archer, perhaps you're not aware, was not exactly the most reputable acquaintance in the world; and my knowledge of him was very slight indeed—wholly accidental—and of very short duration.'

'May I ask you, if, without leaving this town, you can lay your finger on him, Sir?'

'Why, not conveniently,' answered Dangerfield, with the same air of cynical amusement. ''Twould reach in that case all the way to Florence, and even then we should gain little by the discovery.'

'But you do know him?' pursued Mervyn.

'I did, Sir, though very slightly,' answered Dangerfield.

'And I'm given to understand, Sir, he's to be found occasionally in this town?' continued his visitor.

'There's just one man who sees him, and that's the parish clerk—what's his name?—Zekiel Irons—he sees him. Suppose we send down to his house, and fetch him here, and learn all about it?' said Dangerfield, who seemed mightily tickled by the whole thing.

'He left the town, Sir, last night; and I've reason to suspect, with a resolution of returning no more. And I must speak plainly, Mr. Dangerfield, 'tis no subject for trifling—the fame and fortune of a noble family depend on searching out the truth; and I'll lose my life, Sir, or I'll discover it.'

Still the old cynical, quizzical smile on Dangerfield's white face, who said encouragingly—

'Nobly resolved, Sir, upon my honour!'

'And Mr. Dangerfield, if you'll only lay yourself out to help me, with your great knowledge and subtlety—disclosing everything you know or conjecture, and putting me in train to discover the rest—so that I may fully clear this dreadful mystery up—there is no sacrifice of fortune I will not cheerfully make to recompense such immense services, and you may name with confidence your own terms, and think nothing exorbitant.'

For the first time Dangerfield's countenance actually darkened and grew stern, but Mervyn could not discern whether it was with anger or deep thought, and the round spectacles returned his intense gaze with a white reflected sheen, sightless as death.

But the stern mouth opened, and Dangerfield, in his harsh, brief tones, said—

'You speak without reflection, Sir, and had nigh made me lose my temper; but I pardon you; you're young, Sir, and besides, know probably little or nothing of me. Who are you, Sir, who thus think fit to address me, who am by blood and education as good a gentleman as any alive? The inducements you are pleased to offer—you may address elsewhere—they are not for me. I shall forget your imprudence, and answer frankly any questions, within my knowledge, you please to ask.'

Mervyn bowed apologetically, and a silence ensued; after which he thus availed himself of his host's permission to question him—

'You mentioned Irons, the clerk, Mr. Dangerfield, and said that he sees Charles Archer. Do you mean it?'

'Why, thus I mean it. He thinks he sees him; but, if he does, upon my honour, he sees a ghost,' and Dangerfield chuckled merrily.

'Pray, Mr. Dangerfield, consider me, and be serious, and in Heaven's name explain,' said Mervyn, speaking evidently in suppressed anguish.

'Why, you know—don't you? the poor fellow's not quite right here,' and he tapped the centre of his own towering forehead with the delicate tip of his white middle finger. 'I've seen a little of him; he's an angler, so am I; and he showed me the fishing of the river, here, last summer, and often amused me prodigiously. He's got some such very odd maggots! I don't say, mind ye, he's mad, there are many degrees, and he's quite a competent parish clerk. He's only wrong on a point or two, and one of them is Charles Archer. I believe for a while he thought you were he; and Dangerfield laughed his dry, hard chuckle.

'Where, Sir, do you suppose Charles Archer is now to be found?' urged Mervyn.

'Why, what remains of him, in Florence,' answered Dangerfield.

'You speak, Sir, as if you thought him dead.'

'Think? I know he's dead. I knew him but three weeks, and visited him in his sickness—was in his room half an hour before he died, and attended his funeral,' said Dangerfield.

'I implore of you, Sir, as you hope for mercy, don't trifle in this matter,' cried Mervyn, whose face was white, like that of a man about to swoon under an operation.

'Trifle! What d'ye mean, Sir?' barked out Dangerfield, rabidly.

'I mean, Sir, this—I've information he's positively living, and can relieve my father's memory from the horrible imputation that rests upon it. You know who I am!'

'Ay, Sir, Lord Castlemallard told me.'

'And my life I cheerfully devote to the task of seizing and tracing out the bloody clue of the labyrinth in which I'm lost.'

'Good—'tis a pious as well as a prudent resolve,' said Dangerfield, with a quiet sneer. 'And now, Sir, give me leave to say a word. Your information that Charles Archer is living, is not worth the breath of the madman that spoke it, as I'll presently show you. By an odd chance, Sir, I required this file of newspapers, last week, to help me in ascertaining the date of Sir Harry Wyatt's marriage. Well, only last night, what should I hit on but this. Will you please to read?'

He had turned over the pages rapidly, and then he stopped at this little piece of news packed up in a small paragraph at the bottom of a column, and, pointing his finger to it, he slid the volume of newspapers over to Mervyn, who read—

'Died on the 4th of August, of a lingering disease, at his lodgings in Florence, whither he had gone for the improvement of his health, Charles Archer, Esq., a gentleman who some three years since gave an exceeding clear evidence against Lord Dunoran, for the murder of Mr. Beauclerc, and was well known at Newmarket. His funeral, which was private, was attended by several English gentlemen, who were then at Florence.'

Mervyn, deadly pale, with gleaming eyes, and hand laid along his forehead, as if to screen off an insupportable light and concentrate his gaze upon the words, read and re-read these sentences with an agony of scrutiny such as no critic ever yet directed upon a disputed passage in his favourite classic. But there was no possibility of fastening any consolatory interpretation upon the paragraph. It was all too plain and outspoken.

''Tis possible this may be true—thus much. A Charles Archer is dead, and yet another Charles Archer, the object of my search, still living,' said Mervyn.

'Hey! that didn't strike me,' said Dangerfield, as much amused as was consistent with moderately good breeding. 'But I can quite account, Mr. Mervyn,' he continued, with a sudden change of tone and manner, to something almost of kindness, 'for your readiness to entertain any theory not quite destructive of hopes, which, notwithstanding, I fear, rest simply on the visions of that poor hypochondriac, Irons. But, for all that, 'tis just possible that something may strike either you or me in the matter not quite so romantic—hey? But still something.—You've not told me how the plague Charles Archer could possibly have served you. But on that point, perhaps, we can talk another time. I simply desire to say, that any experience or ability I may possess are heartily at your service whenever you please to task them, as my good wishes are already.'

So, stunned, and like a man walking in a dream—all his hopes shivered about his feet—Mervyn walked through the door of the little parlour in the Brass Castle, and Dangerfield, accompanying him to the little gate which gave admission from the high-road to that tenement, dismissed him there, with a bow and a pleasant smile; and, standing, for a while, wiry and erect, with his hands in his pockets, he followed him, as he paced dejectedly away, with the same peculiar smile.

When he was out of sight, Dangerfield returned to his parlour, smiling all the way, and stood on the hearthrug, with his back to the fire. When he was alone, a shadow came over his face, and he looked down on the fringe with a thoughtful scowl—his hands behind his back—and began adjusting and smoothing it with the toe of his shoe.

'Sot, fool, and poltroon—triple qualification for mischief—I don't know why he still lives. Irons—a new vista opens, and this d——d young man!' All this was not, as we sometimes read, 'mentally ejaculated,' but quite literally muttered, as I believe every one at times mutters to himself. 'Charles Archer living—Charles Archer dead—or, as I sometimes think, neither one nor t'other quite—half man, half corpse—a vampire—there is no rest for thee: no sabbath in the days of thy week. Blood, blood—blood—'tis tiresome. Why should I be a slave to these d——d secrets. I don't think 'tis my judgment, so much as the devil, holds me here. Irons has more brains than I—instinct—calculation—which is oftener right? Miss Gertrude Chattesworth, a mere whim, I think understood her game too. I'll deal with that to-morrow. I'll send Daxon the account, vouchers, and cheque for Lord Castlemallard—tell Smith to sell my horses, and, by the next packet—hey?' and he kissed his hand, with an odd smirk, like a gentleman making his adieux, 'and so leave those who court the acquaintance of Charles Archer, to find him out, and catch their Tartar how they may.'



That evening there came to the door of the Mills, a damsel, with a wide basket on her arm, the covering of which being removed, a goodly show of laces, caps, fans, wash-balls, buckles, and other attractions, came out like a parterre of flowers, with such a glow as dazzled the eyes of Moggy, at the study window.

'Would you plaze to want any, my lady?' enquired the pedlar.

Moggy thought they were, perhaps, a little bit too fine for her purse, but she could not forbear longing and looking, and asking the prices of this bit of finery and that, at the window; and she called Betty, and the two maids conned over the whole contents of the basket.

At last she made an offer for an irresistible stay-hook of pinchbeck, set with half-a-dozen resplendent jewels of cut glass, and after considerable chaffering, and a keen encounter of their wits, they came at last to terms, and Moggy ran out to the kitchen for her money, which lay in a brass snuff-box, in a pewter goblet, on the dresser.

As she was counting her coin, and putting back what she did not want, the latch of the kitchen door was lifted from without, and the door itself pushed and shaken. Though the last red gleam of a stormy sunset was glittering among the ivy leaves round the kitchen window, the terrors of last night's apparition were revived in a moment, and, with a blanched face, she gazed on the door, expecting, breathlessly, what would come.

The door was bolted and locked on the inside, in accordance with Doctor Toole's solemn injunction; and there was no attempt to use violence. But a brisk knocking began thereat and Moggy, encouraged by hearing the voices of Betty and the vender of splendours at the little parlour window, and also by the amber sunlight on the rustling ivy leaves, and the loud evening gossip of the sparrows, took heart of grace, and demanded shrilly—

'Who's there?'

A whining beggar's voice asked admission.

'But you can't come in, for the house is shut up for the night, replied the cook.

''Tis a quare hour you lock your doors at,' said the besieger.

'Mighty quare, but so it is,' she answered.

'But 'tis a message for the misthress I have,' answered the applicant.

'Who from?' demanded the porteress.

''Tis a present o' some wine, acushla.'

'Who from?' repeated she, growing more uneasy.

'Auch! woman, are you going to take it in, or no?'

'Come in the morning, my good man,' said she, 'for sorrow a foot you'll put inside the house to-night.'

'An' that's what I'm to tell them that sent me.'

'Neither more nor less,' replied she.

And so she heard a heavy foot clank along the pavement, and she tried to catch a glimpse of the returning figure, but she could not, though she laid her cheek against the window-pane. However, she heard him whistling as he went, which gave her a better opinion of him, and she thought she heard the road gate shut after him.

So feeling relieved, and with a great sigh, she counted her money over; and answering Betty's shrill summons to the study, as the woman was in haste, with a 'Coming, coming this minute,' she replaced her treasure, and got swiftly into poor Charles Nutter's little chamber. There was his pipe over the chimney, and his green, and gold-laced Sunday waistcoat folded on the little walnut table by the fire, and his small folio, 'Maison Rustique, the Country Farme,' with his old green worsted purse set for a marker in it where he had left off reading the night before all their troubles began; and his silk dressing-gown was hanging by the window-frame, and his velvet morning-cap on the same peg—the dust had settled on them now. And after her fright in the kitchen, all these mementoes smote her with a grim sort of reproach and menace, and she wished the window barred, and the door of the ominous little chamber locked for the night.

''Tis growing late,' said the dealer from without, 'and I daren't be on the road after dark. Gi' me my money, good girl; and here, take your stay-hook.'

And so saying, she looked a little puzzled up and down, as not well knowing how they were to make their exchange.

'Here,' says Moggy, 'give it in here.' And removing the fastening, she shoved the window up a little bit. 'Hould it, Betty; hould it up,' said she. And in came the woman's hard, brown hand, palm open, for her money, and the other containing the jewel, after which the vain soul of Moggy lusted.

'That'll do,' said she; and crying shrilly, 'Give us a lift, sweetheart,' in a twinkling she shoved the window up, at the same time kneeling, with a spring, upon the sill, and getting her long leg into the room, with her shoulder under the window-sash, her foot firmly planted on the floor, and her face and head in the apartment. Almost at the same instant she was followed by an ill-looking fellow, buttoned up in a surtout, whose stature seemed enormous, and at sight of whom the two women shrieked as if soul and body were parting.

The lady was now quite in the room, and standing upright showed the tall shape and stern lineaments of Mary Matchwell. And as she stood she laughed a sort of shuddering laugh, like a person who had just had a plunge in cold water.

'Stop that noise,' said she, recognising Betty, who saw her with unspeakable terror. 'I'm the lady that came here, you know, some months ago, with Mrs. Macnamara; and I'm Mrs. Nutter, which the woman up stairs is not. I'm Mrs. Nutter, and you're my servants, do ye mind? and I'll act a fair mistress by you, if you do me honest service. Open the hall-door,' she said to the man, who was by this time also in the room. And forth he went to do her bidding, and a gentleman, who turned out to be that respectable pillar of the law whom Mr. Gamble in the morning had referred to as 'Dirty Davy,' entered. He was followed by Mrs. Mary Matchwell's maid, a giggling, cat-like gipsy, with a lot of gaudy finery about her, and a withered, devilment leering in her face; and a hackney-coach drove up to the door, which had conveyed the party from town; and the driver railing in loud tones, after the manner of his kind in old times, at all things, reeking of whiskey and stale tobacco, and cursing freely, pitched in several trunks, one after the other; and, in fact, it became perfectly clear that M. M. was taking possession. And Betty and Moggy, at their wits' end between terror and bewilderment, were altogether powerless to resist, and could only whimper a protest against the monstrous invasion, while poor little Sally Nutter up stairs, roused by the wild chorus of strange voices from the lethargy of her grief, and even spurred into active alarm, locked her door, and then hammered with a chair upon the floor, under a maniacal hallucination that she was calling I know not what or whom to the rescue.

Then Dirty Davy read aloud, with due emphasis, to the maids, copies, as he stated, of the affidavits sworn to that day by Mistress Mary Matchwell, or as he called her, Mrs. Nutter, relict of the late Charles Nutter, gentleman, of the Mills, in the parish of Chapelizod, barony of Castleknock, and county of Dublin, deposing to her marriage with the said Charles Nutter having been celebrated in the Church of St. Clement Danes, in London, on the 7th of April, 1750. And then came a copy of the marriage certificate, and then a statement how, believing that deceased had left no 'will' making any disposition of his property, or naming an executor, she applied to the Court of Prerogative for letters of administration to the deceased, which letters would be granted in a few days; and in the meantime the bereaved lady would remain in possession of the house and chattels of her late husband.

All this, of course, was so much 'Hebrew-Greek,' as honest Father Roach was wont to phrase it, to the scared women. But M. M.—[Greek: nykti eoikost]—fixing them both with her cold and terrible gaze, said quite intelligibly—

'What's your name?'

'Moggy Sullivan, if you please, Ma'am.'

'And what's yours?'

'Lizabet—Betty they call me—Madam; Lizabet Burke, if you please, Madam.'

'Well, then, Moggy Sullivan and Elizabeth Burke, harkee both, while I tell you a thing. I'm mistress here by law, as you've just heard, and you're my servants; and if you so much as wind the jack or move a tea-cup, except as I tell you, I'll find a way to punish you; and if I miss to the value of a pin's head, I'll indict you for a felony, and have you whipped and burnt in the hand—you know what that means. And now, where's Mistress Sarah Harty? for she must pack and away.'

'Oh! Ma'am, jewel, the poor misthress.'

'I'm the mistress, slut.'

'Ma'am, dear, she's very bad.'

'Where is she?'

'In her room, Ma'am,' answered Betty, with blubbered cheeks.

'Where are you going, minx?' cried M. M., with a terrible voice and look, and striding toward the door, from which Moggy was about to escape.

Now, Moggy was a sort of heroine, not in the vain matter of beauty, for she had high cheek bones, a snub nose, and her figure had no more waist, or other feminine undulations, than the clock in the hall; but like that useful piece of furniture, presented an oblong parallelogram, unassisted by art; for, except on gala days, these homely maidens never sported hoops. But she was, nevertheless, a heroine of the Amazonian species. She tripped up Pat Morgan, and laid that athlete suddenly on his back, upon the grass plot before the hall door, to his eternal disgrace, when he 'offered' to kiss her, while the fiddler and tambourine-man were playing. She used to wring big boys by the ears; overawe fishwives with her voluble invective; put dangerous dogs to rout with sticks and stones, and evince, in all emergencies, an adventurous spirit and an alacrity for battle.

For her, indeed, as for others, the spell of 'M. M.'s' evil eye and witchlike presence was at first too much; but Moggy rallied, and, thus challenged, she turned about at the door and stoutly confronted the intruder.

'Minx, yourself, you black baste; I'm goin' just wherever it plases me best, and I'd like to know who'll stop me; and first, Ma'am, be your lave, I'll tell the mistress to lock her door, and keep you and your rake-helly squad at the wrong side of it, and then, Ma'am, wherever the fancy takes me next—and that's how it is, and my sarvice to your ladyship.'

Off went Moggy, with a leer of defiance and a snap of her fingers, cutting a clumsy caper, and rushed like a mad cow up the stairs, shouting all the way, 'Lock your door, Ma'am—lock your door.'

Growing two or three degrees whiter, M. M., so soon as she recovered herself, glided in pursuit, like the embodiment of an evil spirit, as perhaps she was, and with a gleam of insanity, or murder, in her eye, which always supervened when her wrath was moved.

The sullen face of the bailiff half lighted up with a cynical grin of expectation, for he saw that both ladies were game, and looked for a spirited encounter. But Dirty Davy spoiled all by interposing his person, and arresting the pursuit of his client, and delivering a wheezy expostulation close in her ear.

''Tis a strange thing if I can't do what I will with my own—fine laws, i'faith!'

'I only tell you, Madam, and if you do, it may embarrass us mightily by-and-by.'

'I'd wring her neck across the banister,' murmured M. M.

'An' now, plase your ladyship, will I bring your sarvice to the ladies and gentlemen down in the town, for 'tis there I'm going next,' said Moggy, popping in at the door, with a mock courtesy, and a pugnacious cock in her eye, and a look altogether so provoking and warlike as almost tempted the bailiff at the door to clap her on the back, and cry, had he spoken Latin, macte virtute puer!

'Catch the slut. You sha'n't budge—not a foot—hold her,' cried M. M. to the bailiff.

'Baugh!' was his answer.

'See, now,' said Davy, 'Madam Nutter's not serious—you're not, Ma'am? We don't detain you, mind. The door's open. There's no false imprisonment or duress, mind ye, thanking you all the same, Miss, for your offer. We won't detain you, ah, ah. No, I thank you. Chalk the road for the young lady, Mr. Redmond.'

And Davy fell to whisper energetically again in M. M.'s ear.

And Moggy disappeared. Straight down to the town she went, and to the friendly Dr. Toole's house, but he was not expected home from Dublin till morning. Then she had thoughts of going to the barrack, and applying for a company of soldiers, with a cannon, if necessary, to retake the Mills. Then she bethought her o' good Dr. Walsingham, but he was too simple to cope with such seasoned rogues. General Chattesworth was too far away, and not quite the man either, no more than Colonel Stafford; and the young beaux, 'them captains, and the like, 'id only be funnin' me, and knows nothing of law business.' So she pitched upon Father Roach.



Now, Father Roach's domicile was the first house in the Chapel-lane, which consisted altogether of two, not being very long. It showed a hall-door, painted green—the national hue—which enclosed, I'm happy to say, not a few of the national virtues, chief among which reigned hospitality. As Moggy turned the corner, and got out of the cold wind under its friendly shelter, she heard a stentorian voice, accompanied by the mellifluous drone of a bagpipe, concluding in a highly decorative style the last verse of the 'Colleen Rue.'

Respect for this celestial melody, and a desire to hear a little more of what might follow, held Moggy on the steps, with the knocker between her finger and thumb, unwilling to disturb by an unseasonable summons the harmonies from which she was, in fact, separated only by the thickness of the window and its shutter. And when the vocal and instrumental music came to an end together with a prolonged and indescribable groan and a grunt from the songster and the instrument, there broke forth a shrilly chorus of female cackle, some in admiration and some in laughter; and the voice of Father Roach was heard lustily and melodiously ejaculating 'More power to you, Pat Mahony!'

As this pleasant party all talked together, and Moggy could not clearly unravel a single sentence, she made up her mind to wait no longer, and knocked with good emphasis, under cover of the uproar.

The maid, who had evidently been in the hall, almost instantaneously opened the door; and with a hasty welcome full of giggle and excitement, pulled in Moggy by the arm, shutting the door after her; and each damsel asked the other, 'An' how are you, and are you elegant?' and shaking her neighbour by both hands. The clerical handmaid, in a galloping whisper in Moggy's ear, told her,' 'Twas a weddin' party, and such tarin' fun she never see—sich dancin' and singin', and laughin' and funnin'; and she must wait a bit, and see the quality,' a portion of whom, indeed, were visible as well as over-poweringly audible, through the half-open door of the front parlour; 'and there was to be a thunderin' fine supper—a round of beef and two geese, and a tubful of oysters,' &c, &c.

Now I must mention that this feast was, in fact, in its own way, more romantically wonderful than that of the celebrated wedding of Camacho the Rich, and one of the many hundred proofs I've met with in the course of my long pilgrimage that the honest prose of everyday life is often ten times more surprising than the unsubstantial fictions of even the best epic poets.

The valiant Sir Jaufry, it is true, was ordered to a dungeon by the fair Brunissende, who so soon as she beheld him, nevertheless became enamoured of the knight, and gave him finally her hand in wedlock. But if the fair Brunissende had been five and forty, or by'r lady, fifty, the widow of a tailor, herself wondrous keen after money, and stung very nigh to madness by the preposterous balance due (as per ledger), and the inexhaustible and ingenious dodges executed by the insolvent Sir Jaufry, the composer of that chivalric romance might have shrunk from the happy winding-up as bordering too nearly upon the incredible.

Yet good Father Roach understood human nature better. Man and woman have a tendency to fuse. And given a good-looking fellow and a woman, no matter of what age, who but deserves the name, and bring them together, and let the hero but have proper opportunities, and deuce is in it if nothing comes of the matter. Animosity is no impediment. On the contrary 'tis a more advantageous opening than indifference. The Cid began his courtship by shooting his lady-love's pigeons, and putting her into a pet and a frenzy. The Cid knew what he was about. Stir no matter what passions, provided they be passions, and get your image well into your lady's head, and you may repeat, with like success, the wooing (which superficial people pronounce so unnatural) of crook-backed Richard and the Lady Anne. Of course, there are limits. I would not advise, for instance, a fat elderly gentleman, bald, carbuncled, dull of wit, and slow of speech, to hazard that particular method, lest he should find himself the worse of his experiment. My counsel is for the young, the tolerably good-looking, for murmuring orators of the silver-tongue family, and romantic athletes with coaxing ways.

Worthy Father Roach constituted himself internuncio between Mahony, whom we remember first in his pride of place doing the honours of that feast of Mars in which his 'friend' Nutter was to have carved up the great O'Flaherty on the Fifteen Acres, and next, quantum, mutatus ab illo! a helpless but manly captive in the hands of the Dublin bailiffs, and that very Mrs. Elizabeth Woolly, relict and sole executrix of the late Timotheus Woolly, of High-street, tailor, &c., &c., who was the cruel cause of his incarceration.

Good Father Roach, though a paragon of celibacy, was of a gallant temperament, and a wheedling tongue, and unfolded before the offended eye of the insulted and vindictive executrix so interesting a picture of 'his noble young friend, the victim of circumstance, breaking his manly heart over his follies and misfortunes;' and looking upon her, Mrs. Woolly, afar off, with an eye full of melancholy and awe, tempered with, mayhap, somewhat of romantic gallantry, like Sir Walter Raleigh from the Tower window on Queen Elizabeth, that he at length persuaded the tremendous 'relict' to visit her captive in his dungeon. This she did, in a severe mood, with her attorney, and good Father Roach; and though Mahony's statement was declamatory rather than precise, and dealt more with his feelings than his resources, and was carried on more in the way of an appeal to the 'leedy' than as an exposition to the man of law, leaving matters at the end in certainly no clearer state than before he began, yet the executrix consented to see the imprisoned youth once more, this time dispensing with her attorney's attendance, and content with the protection of the priest, and even upon that, on some subsequent visits, she did not insist.

And so the affair, like one of those medleys of our Irish melodies arranged by poor M. Jullien, starting with a martial air, breathing turf and thunder, fire and sword, went off imperceptibly into a pathetic and amorous strain. Father Roach, still officiating as internuncio, found the dowager less and less impracticable, and at length a treaty was happily concluded. The captive came forth to wear thenceforward those lighter chains only, which are forged by Hymen and wreathed with roses; and the lady applied to his old promissory notes the torch of love, which in a moment reduced them to ashes. And here, at the hermitage of our jolly Chapelizod priest—for bride and bridegroom were alike of the 'ancient faith'—the treaty was ratified, and the bagpipe and the bridegroom, in tremendous unison, splitting the rafters with 'Hymen, Hymen, O Hymenoee!'

In the midst of this festive celebration, his reverence was summoned to the hall, already perfumed with the incense of the geese, the onions, the bacon browned at the kitchen-fire, and various other delicacies, toned and enriched by the vapours that exhaled from the little bottle of punch which, in consideration of his fatigues, stood by the elbow of the piper.

When the holy man had heard Moggy's tale, he scratched his tonsure and looked, I must say, confoundedly bored.

'Now, Moggy, my child, don't you see, acushla, 'tisn't to me you should ha' come; I'm here, my dear, engaged,' and he dried his moist and rubicund countenance, 'in one of the sacred offices iv the Church, the sacrament, my dear, iv'—here Mahony and the piper struck up again in so loud a key in the parlour, that as Moggy afterwards observed, 'they could not hear their own ears,' and the conclusion of the sentence was overwhelmed in, 'Many's the bottle I cracked in my time.' So his reverence impatiently beckoned to the hall-door, which he opened, and on the steps, where he was able to make himself audible, he explained the nature of his present engagement, and referred her to Doctor Toole. Assured, however, that he was in Dublin, he scratched his tonsure once more.

'The divil burn the lot o' them, my dear, an' purty evenin' they chose for their vagaries—an' law papers too, you say, an' an attorney into the bargain—there's no influence you can bring to bear on them fellows. If 'twas another man, an' a couple more at his back, myself an' Pat Moran 'id wallop them out of the house, an' into the river, be gannies; as aisy as say an ave.'

The illustration, it occurred to him, might possibly strike Moggy as irreverent, and the worthy father paused, and, with upturned eyes, murmured a Latin ejaculation, crossing himself; and having thus reasserted his clerical character, he proceeded to demonstrate the uselessness of his going.

But Father Roach, though sometimes a little bit testy, and, on the whole, not without faults, was as good-natured an anchorite as ever said mass or brewed a contemplative bowl of punch. If he refused to go down to the Mills, he would not have been comfortable again that night, nor indeed for a week to come. So, with a sigh, he made up his mind, got quietly into his surtout and mufflers which hung on the peg behind the hall-door, clapped on his hat, grasped his stout oak stick, and telling his housekeeper to let them know, in case his guests should miss him, that he was obliged to go out for ten minutes or so on parish business, forth sallied the stout priest, with no great appetite for knight-errantry, but still anxious to rescue, if so it might be, the distressed princess, begirt with giants and enchanters, at the Mills.

At the Salmon House he enlisted the stalworth Paddy Moran, with the information conveyed to that surprised reveller, that he was to sleep at 'Mrs. Nutter's house' that night; and so, at a brisk pace, the clerical knight, his squire, and demoiselle-errant, proceeded to the Mills.



The good people who had established themselves in poor Nutter's domicile did not appear at all disconcerted by the priest's summons. His knock at the hall-door was attended to with the most consummate assurance by M. M.'s maid, just as if the premises had belonged to her mistress all her days.

Between this hussy and his reverence, who was in no mood to be trifled with, there occurred in the hall some very pretty sparring, which ended by his being ushered into the parlour, where sat Mistress Matchwell and Dirty Davy, the 'tea-things' on the table, and an odour more potent than that of the Chinese aroma circulating agreeably through the chamber.

I need not report the dialogue of the parties, showing how the honest priest maintained, under sore trial, his character for politeness while addressing a lady, and how he indemnified himself in the style in which he 'discoorsed' the attorney; how his language fluctuated between the persuasively religious and the horribly profane; and how, at one crisis in the conversation, although he had self-command enough to bow to the matron, he was on the point of cracking the lawyer's crown with the fine specimen of Irish oak which he carried in his hand, and, in fact, nothing but his prudent respect for that gentleman's cloth prevented his doing so.

'But supposin', Ma'am,' said his reverence, referring to the astounding allegation of her marriage with Nutter; 'for the sake of argumint, it should turn out to be so, in coorse you would not like to turn the poor woman out iv doors, without a penny in her pocket, to beg her bread?'

'Your friend up stairs, Sir, intended playing the lady for the rest of her days,' answered M. M., with a cat-like demureness, sly and cruel, 'at my cost and to my sorrow. For twenty long years, or nigh hand it, she has lived with my husband, consuming my substance, and keeping me in penury. What did she allow me all that time?—not so much as that crust—ha! ha!—no, not even allowed my husband to write me a line, or send me a shilling. I suppose she owes me for her maintenance here—in my house, out of my property—fully two thousand pounds. Make money of that, Sir;—and my lawyer advises me to make her pay it.'

'Or rather to make her account, Ma'am; or you will, if she's disposed to act fairly, take anything you may be advised, to be reasonable and equitable, Ma'am,' interposed Dirty Davy.

'That's it,' resumed Madam Mary. 'I don't want her four bones. Let her make up one thousand pounds—that's reason, Sir—and I'll forgive her the remainder. But if she won't, then to gaol I'll send her, and there she may rot for me.'

'You persave, Sir,' continued the attorney; 'your client—I mane your friend—has fixed herself in the character of an agent—all the late gintleman's money, you see, went through her hands—an agent or a steward to Charles Nutther, desased—an' a coort iv equity'll hould her liable to account, ye see; an' we know well enough what money's past through her hands annually—an' whatever she can prove to have been honestly applied, we'll be quite willin' to allow; but, you see, we must have the balance!'

'Balance!' said the priest, incensed beyond endurance; 'if you stay balancin' here, my joker, much longer, you'll run a raysonable risk of balancin' by the neck out iv one of them trees before the doore.'

'So you're threatenin' my life, Sir!' said the attorney, with a sly defiance.

'You lie like the divil, Sir—savin' your presence, Ma'am. Don't you know the differ, Sir, between a threat an' a warnin', you bosthoon?' thundered his reverence.

'You're sthrivin' to provoke me to a brache iv the pace, as the company can testify,' said Dirty Davy.

'Ye lie again, you—you fat crature—'tis thryin' to provoke you to keep the pace I am. Listen to me, the both o' yez—the leedy up stairs, the misthress iv this house, and widow of poor Charles Nutter—Mrs. Sally Nutther, I say—is well liked in the parish; an' if they get the wind o' the word, all I say 's this—so sure as you're found here houldin' wrongful possession of her house an' goods, the boys iv Palmerstown, Castleknock, and Chapelizod will pay yez a visit you won't like, and duck yez in the river, or hang yez together, like a pair of common robbers, as you unquestionably are—not,' he added, with a sudden sense of legal liability.

'Who's that?' demanded the lynx-eyed lady, who saw Pat Moran cross the door in the shadow of the lobby.

'That's Mr. Moran, a most respectable and muscular man, come here to keep possession, Madam, for Mrs. Sally Nutther, our good friend and neighbour, Ma'am,' replied the priest.

'As you plase, Sir,' replied the attorney; 'you're tumblin' yourself and your friend into a nice predicament—as good a consthructive ousther, vi et armis, as my client could possibly desire. Av coorse, Sir, we'll seek compensation in the regular way for this violent threspass; and we have you criminally, you'll obsarve, no less than civilly.'

'Now, look—onderstand me—don't affect to misteek, av you plase,' said the priest, not very clear or comfortable, for he had before had one or two brushes with the law, and the recollection was disagreeable: 'I—Mr. Moran—we're here, Sir—the both iv us, as you see—pacibly—and—and—all to that—and at the request of Mrs. Sally Nutther—mind that, too—at her special desire—an' I tell you what's more—if you make any row here—do you mind—I'll come down with the magisthrate an' the soldiers, an' lave it to them to dale with you accordin'—mind ye—to law an' equity, civil, human, criminal, an' divine—an' make money o' that, ye—ye—mountain in labour—savin' your presence, Ma'am.'

'I thank you—that'll do, Sir,' said the lawyer, with a lazy chuckle.

'I'll now do myself the honour to make my compliments to Mrs. Sally Nutther,' said Father Roach, making a solemn bow to Mrs. Matchwell, who, with a shrill sneer, pursued him as he disappeared with—

'The lady in the bed-room, your reverence?'

Whereat Dirty Davy renewed his wheezy chuckle.

Nothing daunted, the indignant divine stumped resolutely up stairs, and found poor Sally Nutter, to whose room he was joyfully admitted by honest Betty, who knew his soft honest brogue in a panic, the violence of which had almost superseded her grief. So he consoled and fortified the poor lady as well as he could, and when she urged him to remain in the house all night.

'My dear Ma'am,' says he, lifting his hand and shaking his head, with closed eyes, 'you forget my caracter. Why, the house is full iv faymales. My darlin' Mrs. Nutther, I—I couldn't enthertain sich an idaya; and, besides,' said he, with sudden energy, recollecting that the goose might be overdone, 'there's a religious duty, my dear Ma'am—the holy sacrament waitin'—a pair to be married; but Pat Moran will keep them quiet till mornin,' and I'll be down myself to see you then. So my sarvice to you, Mrs. Nutther, and God bless you, my dear Ma'am.'

And with this valediction the priest departed, and from the road he looked back at the familiar outline of the Mills, and its thick clumps of chimneys, and two twinkling lights, and thought of the horrible and sudden change that had passed over the place and the inmates, and how a dreadful curse had scathed them: making it, till lately the scene of comfort and tranquillity, to become the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

Doctor Toole arrived at ten o'clock next morning, with news that shook the village. The inquest was postponed to the evening, to secure the attendance of some witnesses, who could throw a light, it was thought, on the enquiry. Then Doctor Toole was examined, and identified the body at first, confidently.

'But,' said he, in the great parlour of the Phoenix, where he held forth, 'though the features were as like as two eggs, it struck me the forehead was a thought broader. So, said I, I can set the matter at rest in five minutes. Charles Nutter's left upper arm was broken midway, and I set it; there would be the usual deposit where the bone knit, and he had a sword thrust through his right shoulder, cicatrised, and very well defined; and he had lost two under-teeth. Well, the teeth were gone, but three instead of two, and on laying the arm-bone bare, 'twas plain it had never been broken, and, in like manner, nothing wrong with the right shoulder, and there was nothing like so much deltoid and biceps as Nutter had. So says I, at once, be that body whose it may, 'tis none of Charles Nutter's, and to that I swear, gentlemen; and I had hardly made an end when 'twas identified for the corpse of the French hair-dresser, newly arrived from Paris, who was crossing the Liffey, on Tuesday night, you remember, at the old ferry-boat slip, and fell in and was drowned. So that part of the story's ended.

'But, gentlemen,' continued Toole, with the important and resolute bearing of a man who has a startling announcement to make, 'I am sorry to have to tell you that poor Charles Nutter's in gaol.'

In gaol! was echoed in all sorts of tones from his auditory, with an abundance of profane ejaculations of wonderment, concern, and horror.

'Ay, gentlemen, in the body of the gaol.'

Then it came out that Nutter had been arrested that very morning, in a sedan-chair, at the end of Cook Street, and was now in the county prison awaiting his trial; and that, no doubt, bail would be refused, which, indeed, turned out truly.

So, when all these amazing events had been thoroughly discussed, the little gathering dispersed to blaze them abroad, and Toole wrote to Mr. Gamble, to tell him that the person, Mary Matchwell, claiming to be the wife of Charles Nutter, has established herself at the Mills, and is disposed to be troublesome, and terrifies poor Mrs. Sally Nutter, who is ill; it would be a charity to come out, and direct measures. I know not what ought to be done, though confident her claim is a bag of moonshine and lies, and, if not stopped, she'll make away with the goods and furniture, which is mighty hard upon this unfortunate lady,' etc., etc.

'That Mary Matchwell, as I think, ought to be in gaol for the assault on Sturk; her card, you know, was found in the mud beside him, and she's fit for any devil's work.'

This was addressed by Toole to his good wife.

'That card? said Jimmey, who happened to be triturating a powder in the corner for little Master Barney Sturk, and who suspended operations, and spoke with the pestle in his fingers, and a very cunning leer on his sharp features: 'I know all about that card.'

'You do—do you? and why didn't you spake out long ago, you vagabond?' said Toole. 'Well, then! come now!—what's in your knowledge-box?—out with it.'

'Why, I had that card in my hand the night Mr. Nutter went off.'

'Well?—go on.'

''Twas in the hall at the Mills, Sir; I knew it again at the Barracks the minute I seen it.'

'Why, 'tis a printed card—there's hundreds of them—how d'ye know one from t'other, wisehead?'

'Why, Sir, 'twas how this one was walked on, and the letter M. in Mary was tore across, an' on the back was writ, in red ink, for Mrs. Macnamara, and they could not read it down at the Barracks, because the wet had got at it, and the end was mostly washed away, and they thought it was MacNally, or MacIntire; but I knew it the minute I seen it.'

'Well, my tight little fellow, and what the dickens has all that to do with the matter?' asked Toole, growing uneasy.

'The dickens a much, I believe, Sir; only as Mr. Nutter was goin' out he snatched it out o' my hand—in the hall there—and stuffed it into his pocket.'

'You did not tell that lying story, did you, about the town, you mischievous young spalpeen?' demanded the doctor, shaking his disciple rather roughly by the arm.

'No—I—I didn't—I did not tell, Sir—what is it to me?' answered the boy, frightened.

'You didn't tell—not you, truly. I lay you a tenpenny-bit there isn't a tattler in the town but has the story by rote—a pretty kettle o' fish you'll make of it, with your meddling and lying. If 'twas true, 'twould be another matter, but—hold your tongue;—how the plague are you to know one card from another when they're all alike, and Mrs. Macnamara, Mrs. Macfiddle. I suppose you can read better than the adjutant, ha, ha! Well, mind my words, you've got yourself into a pretty predicament; I'd walk twice from this to the county court-house and back again, only to look at it; a pleasant cross-hackling the counsellors will give you, and if you prevaricate—you know what that is, my boy—the judge will make short work with you, and you may cool your heels in gaol as long as he pleases, for me.'

'And, look'ee,' said Toole, returning, for he was going out, as he generally did, whenever he was profoundly ruffled; 'you remember the affidavit-man that was whipped and pilloried this time two years for perjury, eh? Look to it, my fine fellow. There's more than me knows how Mr. Nutter threatened to cane you that night—and a good turn 'twould have been—and 'twouldn't take much to persuade an honest jury that you wanted to pay him off for that by putting a nail in his coffin, you young miscreant! Go on—do—and I promise you'll get an airing yet you'll not like—you will.'

And so Toole, with a wag of his head, and a grin over his shoulder, strutted out into the village street, where he was seen, with a pursed mouth, and a flushed visage, to make a vicious cut or two with his cane in the air as he walked along. And it must be allowed that Master Jimmey's reflections were a little confused and uncomfortable, as he pondered over the past and the future with the pestle in his fingers and the doctor's awful words ringing in his ears.



As time wore on, little Lilias was not better. When she had read her Bible, and closed it, she would sit long silent, with a sad look, thinking; and often she would ask old Sally questions about her mother, and listen to her, looking all the time with a strange and earnest gaze through the glass door upon the evergreens and the early snowdrops. And old Sally was troubled somehow, and saddened at her dwelling so much upon this theme.

And one evening, as they sat together in the drawing-room—she and the good old rector—she asked him, too, gently, about her; for he never shrank from talking of the beloved dead, but used to speak of her often, with a simple tenderness, as if she were still living.

In this he was right. Why should we be afraid to speak of those of whom we think so continually? She is not dead, but sleepeth! I have met a few, and they very good men, who spoke of their beloved dead with this cheery affection, and mingled their pleasant and loving remembrances of them in their common talk; and often I wished that, when I am laid up in the bosom of our common mother earth, those who loved me would keep my memory thus socially alive, and allow my name, when I shall answer to it no more, to mingle still in their affectionate and merry intercourse.

'Some conflicts my darling had the day before her departure,' he said; 'but such as through God's goodness lasted not long, and ended in the comfort that continued to her end, which was so quiet and so peaceable, we who were nearest about her, knew not the moment of her departure. And little Lily was then but an infant—a tiny little thing. Ah! if my darling had been spared to see her grown-up, such a beauty, and so like her!'

And so he rambled on; and when he looked at her, little Lily was weeping; and as he looked she said, trying to smile—

'Indeed, I don't know why I'm crying, darling. There's nothing the matter with your little Lily—only I can't help crying: and I'm your foolish little Lily, you know.'

And this often happened, that he found she was weeping when he looked on her suddenly, and she used to try to smile, and both, then, to cry together, and neither say what they feared, only each unspeakably more tender and loving. Ah, yes! in their love was mingling now something of the yearning of a farewell, which neither would acknowledge.

'Now, while they lay here,' says sweet John Bunyan, in his 'Pilgrim's Progress,' 'and waited for the good hour, there was a noise in the town that there was a post come from the celestial city, with matter of great importance to one Christiana. So enquiry was made for her, and the house was found out where she was; so the post presented her with a letter, the contents whereof were, "Hail, thou good one! I bring thee tidings that the Master calleth for thee, and expecteth that thou shouldst stand in his presence, in clothes of immortality, within these ten days."'

'When he had read this letter to her, he gave her therewith a sure token that he was a true messenger, and was come to bid her make haste to be gone. The token was an arrow with a point sharpened with love, let easily into her heart, which by degrees wrought so effectually with her, that at the time appointed she must be gone.

'When Christiana saw that her time was come, and that she was the first of this company that was to go over, she called for Mr. Greatheart, her guide, and told him how matters were.'

And so little Lily talked with Mr. Greatheart in her own way; and hearing of her mother, gave ear to the story as to a sweet and solemn parable, that lighted her dark steps. And the old man went on:—

'It is St. John who says, "And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five-and-twenty, or thirty furlongs, they see the Lord walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I, be not afraid." So is it with the frail bark of mortality and the trembling spirit it carries. When "it is now dark," and the sea arises, and the "great wind" blows, the vessel is tost, and the poor heart fails within it; and when they see the dim form which they take to be the angel of death walking the roaming waters, they cry out in terror, but the voice of the sweet Redeemer, the Lord of Life is heard, "It is I; be not afraid," and so the faithful ones "willingly receive him into the ship," and immediately it is at the land whither they go: yes, at the land whither they go. But, oh! the lonely ones, left behind on the other shore.'

One morning, old Sally, who, in her quiet way, used to tell all the little village news she heard, thinking to make her young mistress smile, or at least listen, said—

'And that wild young gentleman, Captain Devereux, is growing godly, they say; Mrs. Irons tells me how he calls for his Bible o' nights, and how he does not play cards, nor eat suppers at the Phoenix, nor keep bad company, nor go into Dublin, but goes to church; and she says she does not know what to make of him.'

Little Lily did not speak or raise her head; she went on stirring the little locket, that lay on the table, with the tip of her finger, looking on it silently. She did not seem to mind old Sally's talk, almost to hear it, but when it ended, she waited, still silent, as a child, when the music is over, listens for more.

When she came down she placed her chair near the window, that she might see the snowdrops and the crocuses.

'The spring, at last, Sally, my darling, and I feel so much better;' and Lily smiled on the flowers through the windows, and I fancy the flowers opened in that beautiful light.

And she said, every now and then, that she felt 'so much better—so much stronger,' and made old Sally sit by her, and talk to her, and smiled so happily, and there again were all her droll engaging little ways. And when the good rector came in, that evening, she welcomed him in the old pleasant way: though she could not run out, as in other times, when she heard his foot on the steps, to meet him at the door, and there was such a beautiful colour in her clear, thin cheeks, and she sang his favourite little song for him, just one verse, with the clear, rich voice he loved so well, and then tired. The voice remained in his ears long after, and often came again, and that little song, in lonely reveries, while he sat listening, in long silence, and twilight, a swan's song.

'You see, your little Lily is growing quite well again. I feel so much better.'

There was such a childish sunshine in her smile, his trembling heart believed it.

'Oh! little Lily, my darling!' he stopped—he was crying, and yet delighted. Smiling all the time, and crying, and through it a little laugh, as if he had waked from a dream of having lost her, and found her there—his treasure—safe. 'If anything happened to little Lily, I think the poor old man'—and the sentence was not finished; and, after a little pause, he said, quite cheerily—'But I knew the spring would bring her back. I knew it, and here she is; the light of the house; little Lily, my treasure.'

And so he blessed and kissed her, and blessed her again, with all his fervent soul, laying his old hand lightly on her fair young head; and when she went up for the night, with gentle old Sally, and he heard her room door shut, he closed his own, and kneeling down, with clasped hands and streaming eyes, in a rapture of gratitude, he poured forth his thanksgivings before the Throne of all Mercies.

These outpourings of gratitude, all premature, for blessings not real but imagined, are not vain. They are not thrown away upon that glorious and marvellous God who draws near to all who will draw near to Him, reciprocates every emotion of our love with a tenderness literally parental, and is delighted with his creatures' appreciation of his affection and his trustworthiness; who knows whereof we are made, and remembers that we are but dust, and is our faithful Creator. Therefore, friend, though thou fearest a shadow, thy prayer is not wasted; though thou rejoicest in an illusion, thy thanksgiving is not in vain. They are the expressions of thy faith recorded in Heaven, and counted—oh! marvellous love and compassion!—to thee for righteousness.



On Sunday, Mervyn, after the good doctor's sermon and benediction, wishing to make enquiry of the rector touching the movements of his clerk, whose place was provisionally supplied by a corpulent and unctuous mercenary from Dublin, whose fat presence and panting delivery were in signal contrast with the lank figure and deep cavernous tones of the absent official, loitered in the church-yard to allow time for the congregation to disperse, and the parson to disrobe and emerge.

He was reading an epitaph on an expansive black flag-stone, in the far corner of the church-yard—it is still there—upon several ancestral members of the family of Lowe, who slept beneath 'in hope,' as the stone-cutter informed the upper world; and musing, as sad men will, upon the dates and vanities of the record, when a thin white hand was lightly laid upon his sleeve from behind; and looking round, in expectation of seeing the rector's grave, simple, kindly countenance, he beheld, instead, with a sort of odd thrill, the white glittering face of Mr. Paul Dangerfield.

'Hamlet in the church-yard!' said the white gentleman, with an ambiguous playfulness, very like a sneer. 'I'm too old to play Horatio; but standing at his elbow, if the Prince permits, I have a friendly word or two to say, in my own dry way.'

There was in Mervyn's nature something that revolted instinctively from the singular person who stood at his shoulder. Their organisations and appetites were different, I suppose, and repellent. Cold and glittering was the 'gelidus anguis in herba'—the churchyard grass—who had lifted his baleful crest close to his ear.

There was a slight flush on 'Hamlet's' forehead, and a glimmer of something dangerous in his eye, as he glanced on his stark acquaintance. But the feeling was transitory and unreasonable, and he greeted him with a cold and sad civility.

'I was thinking, Mr. Mervyn,' said Mr. Dangerfield, politely, 'of walking up to the Tiled House, after church, to pay my respects, and ask the favour of five minutes' discourse with you; and seeing you here, I ventured to present myself.'

'If I can do anything to serve Mr. Dangerfield,' began Mervyn.

Dangerfield smiled and bowed. He was very courteous; but in his smile there was a character of superiority which Mervyn felt almost like an insult.

'You mistake me, Sir. I'm all gratitude; but I don't mean to trouble you further than to ask your attention for two or three minutes. I've a thing to tell you, Sir. I'm really anxious to serve you. I wish I could. And 'tis only that I've recollected since I saw you, a circumstance of which possibly you may make some use.'

'I'm deeply obliged, Sir—deeply,' said Mervyn, eagerly.

'I'm only, Sir, too happy. It relates to Charles Archer. I've recollected, since I saw you, a document concerning his death. It had a legal bearing of some sort, and was signed by at least three gentlemen. One was Sir Philip Drayton, of Drayton Hall, who was with him at Florence in his last illness. I may have signed it myself, but I don't recollect. It was by his express desire, to quiet, as I remember, some proceedings which might have made a noise, and compromised his family.'

'Can you bring to mind the nature of the document?'

'Why, thus much. I'm quite sure it began with a certificate of his death; and then, I think, was added a statement, at his last request, which surprised, or perhaps, shocked us. I only say I think—for though I remember that such a statement was solemnly made, I can't bring to mind whether it was set out in the writing of which I speak. Only I am confident it referred to some crime—a confession of something; but for the life o' me I can't recollect what. If you could let me know the subject of your suspicion it might help me. I should never have remembered this occurrence, for instance, had it not been for our meeting t'other day. I can't exactly—in fact, at all—bring to mind what the crime was: forgery, or perjury—eh?'

'Why, Sir, 'twas this,' said Mervyn, and stopped short, not knowing how far even this innocent confidence might compromise Irons. Dangerfield, his head slightly inclined, was disconcertingly silent and attentive.

'I—I suspect,' resumed Mervyn, 'I suspect, Sir, 'twas perjury,' said Mervyn.

'Oh! perjury? I see—in the matter of his testimony in that distressing prosecution. My Lord Dunoran—hey?'

Mervyn bowed, and Dangerfield remained silent and thoughtful for a minute or two, and then said:—

'I see, Sir—I think I see; but, who then was the guilty man, who killed Mr. —— pooh, What's-his-name—the deceased man,—you know?'

'Why, upon that point, Sir, I should have some hesitation in speaking. I can only now say thus much, that I'm satisfied, he, Charles Archer, in swearing as he did, committed wilful perjury.'

'You are?—oho!—oh! This is satisfactory. You don't, of course, mean mere conjecture—eh?'

'I know not, Sir, how you would call it, but 'tis certainly a feeling fixed in my mind.'

'Well, Sir, I trust it may prove well founded. I wish I had myself a copy of that paper; but, though I have it not, I think I can put you in a way to get it. It was addressed, I perfectly recollect, to the Messrs. Elrington, gentlemen attorneys, in Chancery-lane, London. I remember it, because my Lord Castlemallard employed them eight or nine years afterwards in some law business, which recalled the whole matter to my mind before it had quite faded. No doubt they have it there. 'Twas about a week after his death. The date of that you can have from newspapers. You'll not mention my name when writing, because they mayn't like the trouble of searching, and my Lord Castlemallard would not approve my meddling in other persons' affairs—even in yours.'

'I sha'n't forget. But what if they refuse to seek the paper out?'

'Make it worth their while in money, Sir; and, though they may grumble over it, I warrant they'll find it.'

'Sir,' said Mervyn, suddenly, 'I cannot thank you half enough. This statement, should it appear attached, as you suppose, to the certificate, may possibly place me on the track of that lost witness, who yet may restore my ruined name and fortunes. I thank you, Sir. From my heart I do thank you.'

And he grasped Dangerfield's white thin hand in his, with a fervour how unlike his cold greeting of only a few minutes before, and shook it with an eager cordiality.

Thus across the grave of these old Lowes did the two shake hands, as they had never done before; and Dangerfield, white and glittering, and like a frolicsome man, entering into a joke, wrung his with an exaggerated demonstration, and then flung it downward with a sudden jerk, as if throwing down a glove. The gesture, the smile, and the suspicion of a scowl, had a strange mixture of cordiality, banter and defiance, and he was laughing a quiet 'ha, ha, ha;' and, wagging his head, he said—

'Well, I thought 'twould please you to hear this; and anything more I can do or think of is equally at your service.'

So, side by side they returned, picking their steps among the graves and head-stones, to the old church porch.

For a day or two after the storm, the temper of our cynical friend of the silver spectacles had suffered. Perhaps he did not like the news which had reached him since, and would have preferred that Charles Nutter had made good his escape from the gripe of justice.

The management of Lord Castlemallard's Irish estates had devolved provisionally upon Mr. Dangerfield during the absence of Nutter and the coma of his rival; and the erect white gentleman, before his desk in his elbow-chair, when, after his breakfast, about to open the letters and the books relating to this part of his charge, used sometimes to grin over his work, and jabber to himself his hard scoffs and gibes over the sins and follies of man, and the chops and changes of this mortal life.

But from and after the night of the snow-storm he had contracted a disgust for this part of his labours, and he used to curse Nutter with remarkable intensity, and with an iteration which, to a listener who thought that even the best thing may be said too often, would have been tiresome.

Perhaps a little occurrence, which Mr. Dangerfield himself utterly despised, may have had something to do with his bitter temper, and gave an unsatisfactory turn to his thoughts. It took place on the eventful night of the tempest.

If some people saw visions that night, others dreamed dreams. In a midnight storm like this, time was when the solemn peal and defiant clang of the holy bells would have rung out confusion through the winged hosts of 'the prince of the powers of the air,' from the heights of the abbey tower. Everybody has a right to his own opinion on the matter. Perhaps the prince and his army are no more upon the air on such a night than on any other; or that being so, they no more hastened their departure by reason of the bells than the eclipse does by reason of the beating of the Emperor of China's gongs. But this I aver, whatever the cause, upon such nights of storm, the sensoria of some men are crossed by such wild variety and succession of images, as amounts very nearly to the Walpurgis of a fever. It is not the mere noise—other noises won't do it. The air, to be sure, is thin, and blood-vessels expand, and perhaps the brain is pressed upon unduly. Well, I don't know. Material laws may possibly account for it. I can only speak with certainty of the phenomenon. I've experienced it; and some among those of my friends who have reached that serene period of life in which we con over our ailments, register our sensations, and place ourselves upon regimens, tell me the same story of themselves. And this, too, I know, that upon the night in question, Mr. Paul Dangerfield, who was not troubled either with vapours or superstitions, as he lay in his green-curtained bed in the Brass Castle, had as many dreams flitting over his brain and voices humming and buzzing in his ears, as if he had been a poet or a pythoness.

He had not become, like poor Sturk before his catastrophe, a dreamer of dreams habitually. I suppose he did dream. The beasts do. But his visions never troubled him; and I don't think there was one morning in a year on which he could have remembered his last night's dream at the breakfast-table.

On this particular night, however, he did dream. Vidit somnium. He thought that Sturk was dead, and laid out in a sort of state in an open coffin, with a great bouquet on his breast, something in the continental fashion, as he remembered it in the case of a great, stern, burly ecclesiastic in Florence. The coffin stood on tressels in the aisle of Chapelizod church; and, of all persons in the world, he and Charles Nutter stood side by side as chief mourners, each with a great waxen taper burning in one hand, and a white pocket-handkerchief in the other.

Now in dreams it sometimes happens that men undergo sensations of awe, and even horror, such as waking they never know, and which the scenery and situation of the dream itself appear wholly inadequate to produce. Mr. Paul Dangerfield, had he been called on to do it, would have kept solitary watch in a dead man's chamber, and smoked his pipe as serenely as he would in the club-room of the Phoenix. But here it was different. The company were all hooded and silent, sitting in rows: and there was a dismal sound of distant waters, and an indefinable darkness and horror in the air; and, on a sudden, up sat the corpse of Sturk, and thundered, with a shriek, a dreadful denunciation, and Dangerfield started up in his bed aghast, and cried—'Charles Archer!'

The storm was bellowing and shrieking outside, and for some time that grim, white gentleman, bolt upright in his shirt, did not know distinctly in what part of the world, or, indeed, in what world he was.

'So,' said Mr. Dangerfield, soliloquising, 'Charles Nutter's alive, and in prison, and what comes next? 'Tis enough to make one believe in a devil almost! Why wasn't he drowned, d—n him? How did he get himself taken, d—n him again? From the time I came into this unlucky village I've smelt danger. That accursed beast, a corpse, and a ghost, and a prisoner at last—well, he has been my evil genius. If he were drowned or hanged; born to be hanged, I hope: all I want is quiet—just quiet; but I've a feeling the play's not played out yet. He'll give the hangman the slip, will he: not if I can help it, though; but caution, Sir, caution; life's at stake—my life's on the cast. The clerk's a wise dog to get out of the way. Death's walking. What a cursed fool I was when I came here and saw those beasts, and knew them, not to turn back again, and leave them to possess their paradise! I think I've lost my caution and common sense under some cursed infatuation. That handsome, insolent wench, Miss Gertrude, 'twould be something to have her, and to humble her, too; but—but 'tis not worth a week in such a neighbourhood.'

Now this soliloquy, which broke into an actual mutter every here and there, occurred at about eleven o'clock A.M., in the little low parlour of the Brass Castle, that looked out on the wintry river.

Mr. Dangerfield knew the virtues of tobacco, so he charged his pipe, and sat grim, white, and erect by the fire. It is not everyone that is 'happy thinking,' and the knight of the silver spectacles followed out his solitary discourse, with his pipe between his lips, and saw all sorts of things through the white narcotic smoke.

'It would not do to go off and leave affairs thus; a message might follow me, eh? No; I'll stay and see it out, quite out. Sturk—Barnabas Sturk. If he came to his speech for five minutes—hum—we'll see. I'll speak with Mrs. Sturk about it—we must help him to his speech—a prating fellow; 'tis hard he should hold his tongue; yes, we'll help him to his speech; 'tis in the interest of justice—eternal justice—ha, ha, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Let Dr. Sturk be sworn—ha, ha—magna est veritas—there is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed; ha, ha. Let Dr. Sturk be called.'

So the white, thin phantom of the spectacles and tobacco pipe, sitting upright by the fire, amused himself with a solitary banter. Then he knocked the white ashes out upon the hob, stood up with his back to the fire, in grim rumination, for about a minute, at the end of which he unlocked his desk, and took forth a letter, with a large red seal. If was more than two months old by this time, and was, in fact, that letter from the London doctor which he had expected with some impatience.

It was not very long, and standing he read it through, and his white face contracted, and darkened, and grew strangely intense and stern as he did so.

''Tis devilish strong—ha, ha, ha—conclusive, indeed.' He was amused again. 'I've kept it long enough—igni reservata.'

And holding it in the tongs, he lighted a corner, and as the last black fragment of it, covered with creeping sparks, flew up the chimney, he heard the voice of a gentleman hallooing in the court-yard.



Dangerfield walked out and blandly greeted the visitor, who turned out to be Mr. Justice Lowe.

'I give you good-morning, Sir; pray, alight and step in. Hallo, Doolan, take Mr. Justice Lowe's horse.'

So Mr. Lowe thanked him, in his cold way, and bowing, strode into the Brass Castle; and after the customary civilities, sat himself down, and says he—

'I've been at the Crown Office, Sir, about this murder, we may call it, upon Sturk, and I told them you could throw a light, as I thought, on the matter.'

'As how, Sir?'

'Why, regarding the kind of feeling that subsisted between the prisoner, Nutter, and Doctor Sturk.'

''Tis unpleasant, Sir, but I can't object.'

'There was an angry feeling about the agency, I believe? Lord Castlemallard's agency, eh?' continued Lowe.

'Well, I suppose it was that; there certainly was an unpleasant feeling—very unpleasant.'

'You've heard him express it?'

'Yes; I think most gentlemen who know him have. Why, he made no disguise of it; he was no great talker, but we've heard him on that subject.'

'But you specially know how it stood between them in respect of the agency?'


'Very good, Sir,' said Lowe.

'And I've a notion that something decisive should be done toward effecting a full discovery, and I'll consider of a method,' replied Dangerfield.

'How do you mean?' said Lowe, looking up with a glance like a hawk.

'How! why I'll talk it over with Mrs. Sturk this evening.'

'Why, what has she got to tell?'

'Nothing, as I suppose; I'll see her to-day; there's nothing to tell; but something, I think, to be done; it hasn't been set about rightly; 'tis a botched business hitherto—that's in my judgment.'

'Yet 'tis rather a strong case,' answered Mr. Lowe, superciliously.

'Rather a strong case, so it is, but I'll clench it, Sir; it ought to be certain.'

'Well, Sir?' said Lowe, who expected to hear more.

'Yes,' said Dangerfield, briskly, ''twill depend on her; I'll suggest, she'll decide.'

'And why she, Sir?' said Lowe sharply.

'Because 'tis her business and her right, and no one else can,' answered Dangerfield just as tartly, with his hands in his breeches' pockets, and his head the least thing o' one side, and then with a bow, 'won't you drink a glass of wine, Sir?' which was as much as to say, you'll get no more from me.

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